Words as Vectors of the Construction of Identity: The Example of Young Graduates in a Situation of Overeducation

  • Anne-Marie Costalat-Founeau Epsylon Laboratory EA4556, University Paul-Valéry, Montpellier, France
  • Annabelle Fourès
Keywords: identity dynamics, language, feelings, overeducation, egoecological


Identity is a complex system regulated by emotional, cognitive and contextual dynamic processes. The ego-ecological perspective developed by Zavalloni and Louis-Guérin (2005, 2007) considers that the identity system of an individual is revealed by words which are so many representational units of the Self, of the Alter and Society. These experiential references imply that language is composed of emotionally charged words. The individual’s identity words will be identified via the collection of different language elements using the Multistage Investigator of Social Identity (MISI). Identity words are considered as socio-dynamic "nuclei" of subjectivity, which combine both experiences and contexts of life and are related to representations of the self, others and the world. To illustrate the dynamics and the emotional anchoring of the identity words of a population of young overeducated graduates, we will present a case study, using the ego-ecological method and the MISI (Zavalloni, 2007), in order to identify identity words and their emotional anchoring.

Author Biographies

Anne-Marie Costalat-Founeau, Epsylon Laboratory EA4556, University Paul-Valéry, Montpellier, France

ANNE-MARIE COSTALAT-FOUNEAU is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at the University of Montpellier 3, and Member of the Epsylon EA4556 laboratory, she studies the link between action and the capacity system as a powerful regulator of the construction of social identity and its dynamics. Her research focuses on the adjustment of the capacity system (congruence or incongruence) in different contexts: organizational (mobility, professional transition), cultural (immigration and identity conflict) or health. e-mail: anne.marie-costalat@univ-montp3.fr

Annabelle Fourès

ANNABELLE FOURÈS is a Work and Organizational Psychologist, she supports companies in the development of Human Resources, in particular through managerial support and the management and development of employees' skills. She also carried out research and explores the concept of professional downgrading through the identity dynamics of individuals. e-mail: contact@fouresconsulting.com